It’s Saturday evening, I just got home from the market nearby, I’m having my dinner and while doing so, I figured I would spend some time updating everyone on events from the past week..
Last Saturday, Emily and I decided to go to Itaewon to check out an area of Seoul known to be popular to tourists and foreigners. Little did we know, this would entail spending quite a bit of time figuring out how to charge up our T-money cards for transit use, getting wrong directions and taking the wrong route via subway a couple times. Nevertheless, it was TOTALLY worth it. We took subway line 1 to Dongdaemun market first. Emily had been looking for yarn and needles so we went there in order to buy some supplies. This market mainly consisted of various booths with bedding, fabrics, silks, curtains, beads, blankets, craft supplies, kitchen accessories, household goods and other miscellaneous items. The pricing was pretty reasonable and seemed like a very popular spot for native Koreans to shop. Just outside of the market, I also managed to find a full size towel for $10! Koreans only use towels a quarter of the size for after their shower. It’s rare to find a full size towel, so there was no hesitation in grabbing one. Right across the street from the market, we encountered Heunginjimum. This one of the Eight Gates of Seoul in the Fortress Wall of Seoul. It looked cool and historic, so I snapped a few pictures.
By this time, we were hungry and stopped off at a nearby café to get our caffeine fix. It was nice to relax for a little bit. We also used this time to regroup and figure out the most direct route into Itaewon.
We hopped back onto the subway and arrived in Itaweon about 20 minutes later. Can I also just say that transportation is so cheap! Our whole day of traveling including bus, subway, transfers and taxi was less than $10 (insane right!?). Anyway, as soon as we walked out of the subway station and onto the main street, we were greeted with a Kentucky Fried Chicken on our right hand side. I knew this was a good sign! Itaewon was amazing. After spending two weeks in Suwon, not being able to understand a single street sign, restaurant or store name, it was just a relief to see English. Don’t get me wrong, I have been loving Korean culture and all of the challenges that have come with moving here but this was a pleasant surprise. There were a ton of foreigners which made it feel more like I was walking down the streets of Toronto! This was also a nice change since I had been feeling slightly homesick. Itaewon was full of side streets with bars, restaurants, lounges and boutiques. The main street also had a ton of these things too, along with bookstores, cafés and North American brand stores such as Aldo, Nike, Converse and Body Shop. If you are currently living here and missing home or looking for somewhere to explore for the day, I suggest making a trip to Itaewon. The streets are continuously busy and the nightlife seems like it would be awesome (we left around 10 to get the subway back to Suwon). Also, I found the Koreans here to be much more open-minded and very friendly when communicating with us. In Suwon, sometimes when you’re trying your very best to get your point across with language barrier, they look at you like you are absolutely crazy. Sometimes even if they don’t understand you but crack a smile, it helps you feel more at ease (you know what I mean?). Emily and I visited a great English bookstore as well, called What The Book? We spent at least an hour in there just wandering around, finding a few good books to pick up. We finished off our Saturday evening by going to a restaurant to get shawarma and falafel. Our dinner was super satisfying! We left to head home and were back in Suwon around midnight.
Sunday did not consist of anything too exciting – I cleaned my place, did some laundry and visited the market for some groceries for the week.
This week consisted of learning how to write lesson plans and session tests for our students. It seemed a bit overwhelming attempting to make lesson plans for six different classes, for 5 days a week, for classes at varying levels, using various textbooks; however, by the time I wrote a few of them, I seemed to have had the hang of things.
So far, my classes are going quite well. From week to week, things seem to get easier. My students are now a lot more comfortable with me and I can tell they have so much potential. They’re just so smart (not to mention adorable)! It makes me to happy to see that they are eager to learn. It also makes my job a lot easier!
I also experienced my first Chuseok Party this week. Chuseok is a harvest festival celebrated on September 18th-20th this year. During this time, most businesses and schools are closed. Families spend time with their relatives and enjoy traditional food together. This is the equivalent to our Thanksgiving at home. On Thursday, all the children came to school in their traditional attire and participated in games and activities in the auditorium during the first half of the day. The kids looked super cute and had a blast!
I am thoroughly looking forward to the 5 day weekend coming up! What could be better than a 2 day work week!? I am hoping to make it out to Seoul for partying and exploring. I really want to visit Hongdae and Myeongdong. Also, I would really like to check out the Fortress in Suwon since it is in such close proximity to my place. Unfortunately, we don’t get our first full pay check until October 15th so if anyone has any budget friendly ideas for excursions in the area, I’m open to your suggestions!
For now, I’ll leave you with a handful of food porn pictures accumulated from this past week..
Have a great weekend!